This post is about knowing who the protagonist and antagonist are in your story.  I know you’re thinking the protagonist is a good character while the antagonistic character is a bad character, but is that really so?

This post will expose their true functions in a story so that you can start seeing clearly when you write your screenplay.

Let’s get things straight; without a protagonist, there isn’t a story.  That brings us to the question on your mind.

Who Is A Protagonist?

A protagonist is a character used by the screenwriter to push the story/plot forward through the decisions he/she makes.

In a plot structure, there are different stages and to move from one stage to the next; the screenwriter, every character, and the story depend on the protagonist to take the first step which simply means if the protagonist is static, everything concerning the story you’re telling will also be static.

Qualities Of A Protagonist:

  • Goal-Oriented: The reason why the protagonist is so powerful is that he/she always wants something and it’s his/her want that causes him/her to make decisions that push the story forward.
  • Decision Maker: To know the protagonist in a movie or in your story, check out for the character that makes critical decisions that changes the whole dynamics of the story.

Read: Protagonist And Main Character.


The definition of an antagonist by most screenwriters is that the antagonistic character tries to stop the protagonist from achieving his/her goals.

Even though the above is correct to an extent, it only applies when the protagonist and the main character are one character.

Since there are no formulas to writing a story, there are some stories where the antagonistic character isn’t after the protagonist, but after the main character, and in these types of stories, you can see that the above definition isn’t exactly true.

What Is True About Antagonists?

Scenario 1:

When the protagonist and the main character are one character, the antagonistic character goes after the protagonist because he/she is also the main character.

Scenario 2:

When the protagonist is different from the main character, the antagonist leaves the protagonist and goes after the main character.

These two scenarios have gone ahead to show us that an antagonist goes after the main character in a story.

Who Is An Antagonist?

An antagonist is a character used by the screenwriter to inflict pain on the main character.

The antagonistic character in a story isn’t necessarily the bad character, but an antagonist is always the opposite of the main character.

Read: Screenwriting Terminologies.

Example 1 – The Good Antagonist

If the main character in a story is an extravagant money spender, the antagonist becomes the character who tries to inflict pain on the main character by teaching him/her how to become a prudent spender.

Even though the character is called the antagonist in this case, we know that the antagonist is after something good.

Example 2 – The Bad Antagonist

If the main character is a herbal doctor who heals everyone that comes to him, the antagonist becomes the jealous character whose aim is to inflict pain on the main character by chasing all the herbal doctor’s clients away.

Did You Know?

  • In some stories, the antagonist may suggest the goal of the protagonist to the protagonist.
  • The protagonist and antagonist can work together to inflict pain on the main character.
  • The Antagonist’s wrath isn’t necessarily for the character with a goal, but for the character that stands in his/her way.

Read: Elements Of A Screenplay.